Healing Our Trauma

What is complex PTSD or cPTSD and how is it different from PTSD? How do we treat these problems? Think of PTSD as an emotional reaction to a traumatic situation. Complex PTSD is not an official diagnosis in our diagnostic manual. Instead it’s a term used to describe a different kind of experience that a person has from chronic traumatic experiences that occur over time. It’s usually trauma that starts in childhood. This could be either physical, emotional or sexual abuse or neglect. Because the neglect or abuse is occurring during the extremely vulnerable developmental years, the trauma shapes your development and your personality.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. The following criteria apply to adults, adolescents, and children older than 6 years.

1 Directly experiencing the traumatic event(s).
2 Witnessing, in person, the event(s) as it occurred to others.
3 Learning that the traumatic event(s) occurred to a close family member or close friend.
4 Experiencing repeated or extreme exposure to aversive details of the traumatic event(s)

Presence of one (or more) of the following intrusion symptoms
1. Recurrent, involuntary, and intrusive distressing memories of the traumatic event(s).
2. Recurrent distressing dreams in which the content and/or affect of the dream are related to the traumatic event(s).
3. Dissociative reactions (e.g., flashbacks)
4. Intense or prolonged psychological distress at exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event(s).
5. Marked physiological reactions to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event(s).
6 Exaggerated startle response.
7 Sleep disturbance (e.g., difficulty falling or staying asleep or restless sleep).

The disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
The disturbance is not attributable to the physiological effects of a substance (e.g., medication, alcohol) or another medical condition.

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